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8. Chapter 8

Cia%s's Photo   Cia, 10 Dec 2010

Cale woke up with a sense of déjà vu; Bel'loc was spooned up behind him in the large bed, arms wrapped around his chest. This time he didn't feel the need to get up, he simply snuggled in closer to the bigger man, reliving the memory of the afternoon’s passions. Bel'loc had been so powerful and his kisses had aroused a similar lust in Cale, urging him to bring Bel'loc to previously unknown heights of passion. He had relished the memory of the sight of Bel'loc's face, the surprise and shocked pleasure as Cale had swallowed him to the hilt, massaging with his mouth, tongue and lips until Bel'loc came with his name on his lips. The scent, feel and taste of Bel'loc had pulsed through Cale, making him rock hard until he spared a hand to bring about his own orgasm. The combined pleasure had echoed through Cale as he watched the swirl of Bel'loc's eyes slowed as he fell asleep. There would be time to teach Bel'loc the joy of reciprocating later; it was enough at the time for Cale to bring pleasure to his lover.

"Are you awake?" came a whisper from behind as the hands that had been wrapped around his chest rubbed up and down in a possessive manner. Cale turned over in the bed, bringing their bodies in line, the few inches difference in their height not preventing the meeting of all the important bits. He grinned at the slight narrowing of Bel'loc's eyes, as he gave him a subtle nudge with the barest twist of his hip. It was a move that had worked with his lovers in the past, men and women.

"Oh, I'm awake alright. I was just lying here thinking about making you make those noises again, if I can keep you awake." Cale teased.

Bel'loc blushed like the virgin he was, "I never imagined that someone would ever do that or that it could feel so good. I didn't mean to fall asleep, leaving you like that, I swear." He licked his lips nervously, "Do you want me to make it up to you?"

"Oh, now I wish I hadn't already cum, but watching you was simply too stimulating for me to resist. It only took a few strokes before I joined you in release. I have never had orgasms as intense as what I have with you these past few days. I’ve had lovers before, but this...this just feels…different." Cale wasn't quite sure he understood what he meant, much less if Bel'loc could understand how incredible he felt around him.

"I know that I must seem hopelessly clueless to you. I don't know what I am doing; I’ve never really spoken to anyone about sex before. The priests and priestesses are not celibate but as the scion of the Lords I am expected to remain pure except for with a Consecrated vessel. I...I love being with you, but I'm afraid that I will disappoint you with my ignorance." Bel'loc confessed his fears, meeting Cale's eyes, searching for any hint of reaction.

He didn't have to wait long, Cale pressed his lips to Bel'loc, softly and gently. Cale used his teeth, but gently, little nibbles and bites, mixed with soft brushings as he teased the soft lips that hungrily met his. He kept the kisses deliberately light, feeling Bel'loc's frustration mount as they came into sync again, the bond between their souls causing an echo of the physical pleasure they shared to swirl between them. Finally, a large hand came up, curled around the nape of his neck and kept him from pulling back. Cale felt Bel'loc shift his legs between them to bring them closer, firm pressure now keeping him from moving. When his lips were caught in a strong kiss, Cale opened his mouth to the waiting tongue, sucking gently on it as the penetration occurred over and over.

Bel'loc pulled away first to stare at Cale as they gasped for breath. "For someone with no practice you have plenty of natural talent." Cale panted. "I can hardly wait to see what else you plan to practice on me."

Suddenly there was a knock on the outer chamber door. The two men were startled, having forgotten that they were not alone and that it was the middle of the day. A voice in the antechamber caused Bel'loc to panic as he shoved Cale out of the bed and into the shared bathing chamber.

"Shhh..." he said. "You wait here and pretend to be freshening up in case whoever that is, is here as a spy of my father's. I'll go see what they want."

Cale nodded, trembling slightly with nervous excitement that came from almost getting caught in bed together. Exhaustion made them forget everything around them, blind to the dangers that their relationship could expose them to. Every time Cale remembered being with Bel'loc in an intimate way the worries and necessary secrecy that they had to hide in seemed to fade. It was intense, almost as if he lost himself and there was a blurring into Bel'loc, so in tune did he feel.

Cale ducked his head under the water in the bathing pool to back up their story, resolving to ask Bel'loc if he noticed a similar sensation. In which case a dangerous situation would rapidly become suicidal one unless they could control themselves. They would have to be more careful now that they were staying so close to the Shilan.

Bel'loc stood clad only in a kilt in his sleeping chamber, posture stiff and formal as he listened to the snide oily tone in the Shilan's Sheven voice. He knew that the Sheven was just as guilty for the plots on his life as his father was.

"We thought since you and your Sheven were feeling better that the Covenant feast should be held tonight. The servants have been hard at work since this afternoon, preparing a great feast and entertainment. Some garments appropriate to your Sheven's new rank have been found, so I volunteered to bring them by and inform you that the meal will be starting in one hour."

"That will be fine, please tell my father that we are honored by his gracious offer of clothing and his thought in arranging a feast so soon after the excitement of this day. In truth I had never thought to witness the Lords manifest, much less twice in one day. I wasn’t sure the people were up to more excitement."

The Sheven bowed, the clothing in his hands seeming to keep him from making the customary gesture as deep as it should be. Bel'loc knew it for what it was, a snub, very subtly given just as a thousand other barbs would be waiting this evening at the high table.

"What are you doing?" Bel'loc asked imperiously as the Sheven began to walk towards the bed.

"I thought I would lay the selections out on the bed, My Lord Shiren." the Sheven smoothly said.

"Why? This is not my Sheven's quarters. His clothing should go to his room. You may leave them on his bed if he is awake; otherwise leave them in the antechamber. Another servant can put them away later."

The Sheven flushed at the thinly veiled insult. No one usually spoke of it, but he was considered the Shilan's servant in many ways, from the way he was spoken to by the Shilan to the duties that he commonly performed. A typical Sheven to a Shilan was an equal in almost every way, a confidant, partner and temporary Regent if the Shilan was unavailable at any time. However, his Shilan didn’t share power, a trait that was beginning to annoy his Sheven after so many years of loyalty.

He stalked out of the room, his little game attempting to find the Shiren in a compromising position with his Sheven was a total failure. He went into the other room, the door open to the bathing chamber giving the clue he needed to figure out where the outworlder was hiding. He threw the clothing in an untidy heap on the bed, smaller than the Shiren's of course, but still lavish and heaped with warm coverings to ward off the chill of the night. Since the outworlder had none of his personal belongings with him poking around the room would do no good. He hated to go to the Shilan with empty hands but he had sent the bird after telling the handlers that his attempt at healing it hadn't worked. Hopefully that news would appease the Shilan’s wrath over his complete failure to come up with anything new this time.

Bel'loc waited until he heard the anteroom's door shut, and then went through the adjoining door into the bathing chamber. He could just see Cale's back where he stood peeking into the other chamber, checking to see if it was all clear. Bel'loc snuck up behind him, the stealth that was so useful when hunting the wild gesslebrok letting him move on silent feet until he stood behind Cale. Barely breathing, he waited until he saw the man in front of him begin to move into the other room before he grabbed him around the waist and pulled Cale back into a body hug.

"Ahhhh!" Cale yelled, startled as he was yanked against a large, hard body from behind. Without pausing his training took over as he reached to grab the neck of the man behind him with a two handed lock. Dropping his upper body toward the ground he heaved his attacker over his shoulder and onto the ground. His grip shifted from the back of the neck to a straight arm across the throat as he maneuvered his body to pin the struggling man below him, his right hand pulled back to deliver a knockout blow to the face he was just starting to focus on.

"What the hell!" Cale cursed as he realized that he had Bel'loc pinned to the ground and that the struggling was actually Bel'loc's attempts to laugh, if only he wasn't being choked. Cale stood up, adrenaline still surging, causing his breath to come in sharp pants as he struggled to correct the chemical imbalance that he had triggered. Absorbing the extra chemicals he had unconsciously dumped in his bloodstream took a few moments concentration, then he turned his attention to the man still lying on the floor, looking up at him and giggling.

"What in the hell were you thinking? I could have hurt you!" Cale demanded. The thought of how close he had come actually made him shiver, knowing that he had been only seconds away from the danger point, where he couldn't have stopped, even if he'd wanted to.

"You should have seen your face when you saw it was me!" Bel'loc chortled. "That was worth getting the breath choked out of me."

"You don't understand! If I hadn't stopped when I did, I wouldn't have been able to until you were down, unwilling and unable to be of further threat. It's not something I ever want to have happen to you." The tortured expression on Cale's face finally got through to Bel'loc.

"I'm sorry. I don't understand, but...I am sorry. I won't do it again." Cale nodded at the apology.

"Well, I never thought to see you so distracted by anything that you wouldn't realize you were standing in front of me naked." Bel'loc was grinning again, chortling as the pale skin man proved that when he blushed it was all over. Cale tried ineffectually to cover up his groin, his two hands not quite covering all the interesting real estate from Bel'loc's all too apparent appreciation.

"Would you wipe that stupid smirk off your face and help me find something to put on?" Cale demanded peevishly.

"Sure...though it's an awful shame!"

Bel'loc led Cale into his bedchamber to the pile of clothing on the bed. He quickly sorted through the stack, pulling out formal garments that would be appropriate for the feast in their honor. The outfit was also traditional, the kilt dyed black, a sacred color to the Lords. The dye was a mix of colors, worn only for ceremonial occasions and only by the Shilan's family and their Shevens. The more common blue tunic was embroidered with the image of the sacred flowers on the sleeves in black thread, extending along the shoulders and around the collar much like the torcs that the two men wore.

Bel'loc helped Cale adjust his clothing then he led the way back into his own bedchamber. An identical outfit was hanging off a hook in the corner, waiting for Bel'loc to pull on. Bel’loc got dressed, and then sat down on a stool, using a multi-toothed wooden comb to smooth his dense black hair. Cale watched for a few moments.

"Here, give me that." said Cale as he held out his hand for the comb. Bel'loc hesitated so he wiggled his fingers in an impatient gesture, "C'mon, I'll be gentle, I promise."

Bel'loc handed the comb to Cale with some trepidation. He knew how badly his hair tangled; it was why he usually kept it plaited tight to the back of his head, the end of his braid reaching to mid-back when he didn't wrap it up for hunting. Men in his tribe had long hair, women kept theirs even longer. It was a common courtship ritual between two betrothed to comb each other's hair, a sensual act that was the only touching allowed before they were joined. Bel'loc shivered as he felt Cale grab a section of his hair, gently pulling the comb down the strand working out the tangles without pulling. Cale allowed his hand to slip down the now smooth length, patting it into place, causing Bel'loc to shiver. Bel'loc let out a heavy sigh as his eyes closed, enjoying the simple contact as much as any of the intimate acts they had shared.

Cale swept the hair off one shoulder as he finished, placing a soft kiss to the side of the long neck he exposed. "That's as much as I can help. I don't know how to twist hair into braids like I've seen the other men wear, most men in the cultures I have lived in wear their hair short."

"That's alright. I learned how to plait my hair at a very young age, the whole stricture thing you know. Luckily boys fewer than 8 cycles have their hair kept as short as yours until they are ready to mature. They begin to let their hair grow before the courtship rituals start, so they get more time to spend in close contact with their partner."

"You said, partner...does that mean your culture allows men to love men or women?" Cale asked.

"Of course, gender doesn’t matter as much as a good match. The negotiations are the same for the parents; their children's happiness is all that matters. Pairings are not always between just two people either, sometimes three and four people matches are known to occur, though not too often. Those bonds are mostly identical siblings who fall in love with the same person."

"See, our culture believes that the people involved in a good pairing share a soul bond, that is what brings them together. Twins are thought to share a soul; often they feel the bond to the same person. That is often how most of our multiple person pairings happen. It is considered a special bond, one that defies explanation to someone who has not experienced it, but soul pairings rarely separate. Somehow, each person becomes blended with the other.”

"I see...I think." Cale said, that explanation making him think.

Cale wondered if that was what he was feeling when he touched Bel'loc. It was almost as if he could tell what Bel’loc was thinking and feeling, but he didn't know if such a thing was really possible or some twisted side affect of something on this planet. All the otherworldly things he had experienced could be chalked up to some foreign substance that he was exposed to, well...Cale brought a hand up to hover above the torc around his neck but brought his hand down before he touched the strange black object. He shoved all the upsetting thoughts about yesterday afternoon into a box in his mind and slammed a lid down on top of them, locking them away from his surface thoughts. Cale just wasn't ready to face what all that meant yet.

While he had been thinking Bel'loc had quickly bound his hair back, tying the end with a black cord that hung down to brush his waist. They were ready just in time as a knock came to the outer anteroom door, this time a servant stood waiting to summon them to the feast. The Shilan, the Masters of the varied halls and senior members of the priesthood were waiting for them as the guests of honor.

"Am I expected to do anything at this?" Cale asked as they walked towards the banquet hall.

"Not really," Bel'loc told him, "I will give a speech thanking the Shilan for the honor of the feast and the attendees, all you have to do is say a few words at the end of the feast to signal the people it is over. Do you think you can manage that?"

"Yes, I have given many of those speeches in the past, it's all just tailoring to the crowd, and I can do that with my eyes closed." Cale responded.

Bel'loc leaned over to whisper hotly in Cale's ear, causing a shiver to ripple down his spine "But if you close your eyes I won't be able to get lost in their beautiful brown liquid pools."

Cale couldn't believe that Bel'loc thought his eyes were so beautiful; they were so ordinary compared to the eyes of the Tarennans. He would let Bel'loc think what he wanted though, as long as he continued to appreciate what he saw.

A waiting servant struck a gong as they entered the banquet hall, as silence fell he announced in a stentorian voice, "My Lord Shiren and his Sheven!"

The groups seated around the tables stood and bowed as the two men entered the room, rising after they passed until they reached the head table where Bel'loc and Cale inclined their own heads to the Shilan and his Sheven. Everyone sat once they were in the places of honor at the right hand of the Shilan, his Sheven opposite them to his left. A wooden trencher sat between Bel'loc and Cale, the same as between the Shilan and his Sheven. It was the traditional that the pairs share their meal, as they now shared their lives after swearing the Covenant. They swore to honor and trust each other with their lives, mingling their blood, becoming one. The Covenant was the most sacred vow in their culture.

The Shilan stood, "This feast is to honor Our son and his new Sheven. The time when a new Covenant is sworn is a special occasion, one for celebration and thanksgiving. We offer this celebration in honor of the Shiren, Bel'loc and his Sheven, Caleum Outworlder. We wish you the future life you both so richly deserve." He raised his glass to toast the pair.

The Shilan’s Sheven also stood, addressing the crowd, "The Lord Shiren and his Sheven!" The glasses of all the feasters rose as they rang out the call, "The Lord Shiren and his Sheven!"

Bel'loc stood for the customary thanks, slightly bitter as he had caught sarcastic overtones from his father's toast. He knew the Shilan didn't have much time left before plans for his ascension would be discussed by the Council. Bel'loc was properly thankful in his speech but cut it short, his ability to suck up to the man he knew had tried to kill, HAD killed Cale, was severely limited this evening. The cooks brought out the serving platters as Bel'loc sat down, a signal to the waiting musicians to start playing softly in the background. The hum of voices as everyone began talking was a marked contrast to the cool silence that descended over the head table.

"Would you like some of these sautéed mushrooms, My Lords?" asked the Sheven as he offered a steaming wooden bowl. The mushrooms had been chopped into small pieces and sautéed in butter, herbs visible among the pale caps. "They are from my own garden, I picked them and delivered them to the cooks myself, knowing how you liked them, My Lord Shiren."

"No. We would not." said Bel'loc in a wintry tone, a warning glint in his eye.

The Sheven smirked at the two men, amused at the short answer he had received. It let him know that they knew who had been behind the poisoning of the outworlder, but knew that without evidence there was nothing they could do. The idea that the Shilan would try to kill his heir or his heir's Sheven would be unthinkable to most members of their society. The image of the happy family had been maintained for all but a select few on each side of the feud; the necessity of such silence was galling to Bel'loc but he knew that proving any accusations would be almost impossible. He was sure the tainted halberd had been removed and cleaned of all traces of poison before Cale had even made it to the healing chamber.

"What is this, Bel'loc?" asked Cale as he pointed to a piece of meat, dripping with a dark red sauce that was on their trencher. The aroma coming off the meat was a rich assault on the senses, both spicy and sweet, with just a hint of a smoky undertone.

"Ahh, that’s my favorite dish. It is gesslebrok meat, a 4 legged grass browser from the Interior. They are very hard to kill; it typically takes a large hunting party to bring several of them down at once because they have such acute hearing and eyesight. The sauce is a mix of several peppers and fruits, also from the interior, some of the gesslebrok's favorite fodder. It complements the natural flavor the meat already has. The cuts are placed in a smoke box with herbs, and then roasted with this sauce on polalla planks in an open oven."

Bel'loc speared a piece of the steak with his belt-knife, a small 2 inch implement used for eating as they had no forks. Cale had noticed the lack of any fork or knife and was concerned as he had no idea what to do with the rough spoon he had been given. He had stressed until he saw the others important enough to be at the head table pull out the small blade and he breathed a sigh of relief. Though he didn't have one he was sure that he could signal a servant and get one. Before he could do that however, Bel'loc held the dripping offering to his lips, a gentle nudge and nod letting him know he was supposed to take the bite.

"We are supposed to share at this meal, helping each other to eat, even as we share and help each other in life now."

Cale closed his lips over the blade behind the bite of meat on the tip, slowly pulling his head back, his tongue wiping all the drips of sauce off the slick stone surface as he kept eye contact with Bel'loc. The absolute trust one must have to allow someone else to put a knife in such a vulnerable area was staggering. Typically the Shiren would ceremoniously offer the handle of the blade after he speared the first bite for his Sheven, then they would share as much as they needed to eat the food they were currently being served. A hush fell over the tables near to the head table as members of the priesthood watched the two men, as well as a few craft masters. Some of the priests and priestesses whispered among themselves, able to see the soul bond that the two men shared, even if they didn’t acknowledge it yet.

The Shilan hissed at the obviously planned play on the sentiments of the people. No one would have such trust in another, especially someone they had just met. Fa'ril's own selfish mindset wouldn't allow him see any genuine emotion between the two men. The Sheven watched with narrowed eyes, even as he tightened his grip on Fa'ril to remind him that subtlety and patience were necessary. As anxious as they both were to have the Shiren out of the way their own hands must remain clean.

The rest of the feast Cale watched the people around him, how they spoke, how they interacted. The body language of those seated at the head table was markedly different; everyone was very stiff and uncomfortable, no one was speaking. People were even eating less. Granted that might be simply because the use of the utensils was very awkward, but they should be used to that. The lower tables seemed to be enjoying the feast with no reservations. Cale sighed; obviously the wool wasn't being pulled over the council and master's eyes without their assistance, even if it was mostly subconscious.

Bel'loc's stomach was clenched tight as a fist; his father's blatantly false attitude marring what should have been a joyous moment for him was making him nauseous. He tried to share the feast with Cale, introducing him to his favorite foods, the gesslebrok, the roasted tubers that had a smooth buttery flavor, the candied polalla flowers, a delicacy shared only for official feasts during the growing season. All these foods tasted like ash in his mouth, his fury at the reminder of the loss of his Sheven before the Lords restored him was so strong he barely held himself in check. It was a good thing his part of the toasting was done; he held control of his temper by his fingertips only.

Soon the meal concluded, the Shilan waving an arm to bring out the entertainment to end the evening. Several children were scrubbed and presented with shiny earnest faces to recite poetry they learned in the Temple, simply lays that spoke of the beauty of Tarenna and the duties of the people to protect her. After them the musicians who had played during the meal stepped back up to their places, their wooden and bone instruments playing a complex rhythm. A woman stepped from behind a screen that blocked the servants entrance on that end of the hall, her robe embroidered with elaborate sigils.

"What is happening?" asked Cale as he watched, as rapt as the rest of the crowd.

"That is Felaniela, she is a priestess. She is going to chant a very special tale...it's the story of how the Lords first saved our people and taught us the ways of Tarenna. It is a reminder to us to never forget that which is most important, just listen."

Once owned as slaves, they came by scores
Hurt and huddled with fear and joy
To live in freedom, to cower no more

The lands were dangerous, death stalked their days
The people cried out in this new land
For someone to come, to teach its ways

With desperation and regret, a plea was made
With the blood of an innocent woman
A sacrifice so pure, her soul didn't fade

Her blood flowed warm, soaked into hard clay
The Lords heard the call and came anon
To save her life, her faith the way

They used blue herbs, and closed the wound
Kissed her and laid hands on her
She breathed once more, saved dying too soon

The Lords gathered all, taught them the way
The people rejoiced death won no more
The Lords had commands, more things to say

They taught the priests, to pray and heal
The men taught to hunt and kill
The women the herbs, to weave and feel

The woman they touched, gave them a son
The life spark was pure and love
His word was law, the way had come

Cale listened to the melodic chant as it went on to describe the ways the Lords had influenced the people's lives, how they had learned the ways of the land, setting forth the seeds of the society that flourished and covered the planet today. Somewhere along the time the people had pulled back from the reverence of life that the Lords espoused, and warring factions broke out. Things were changing from the way the Lords had willed them to be, free will was damaging Tarenna and her magic. There were a few lines towards the end of the poem that piqued Cale's interest and he listened with fierce concentration.

Someday one will come, to bond in fake
An outworlder full of honor and strength
To save our son, our land to make

Not safe from within, the stakes are high
As the treachery without stalks the path
Hold tight to another, believe not the lie

To find the key, to save in time
In the savage Interior you must tread
Search through the horizon, speak there this rhyme

Cale leaned forward, eager to hear the rhyme. He couldn't help by draw comparisons to his and Bel'loc's situation and wonder if this ancient chant was really a prophecy handed down in oral tradition from the first coming of Bel'loc's people. But the lay ended, the priestess bowed and the silence was profound for a moment before the music resumed and the people sat speaking quietly.

“That was very beautiful, but such a mysterious ending.” Mused Cale.

“It is said that there was a rhyme hidden in the Inner Courtyard of the Temple, that the Lords would reveal its location to their Chosen ones when Tarenna’s need was great.” Bel’loc told him.

The Shilan snorted. “As if such tales had an inkling of significance to now?” he mocked, “Tarenna is in Our hands, and shall be for some time to come, there is no need for any rescue…except for”

Again the Sheven gripped his Shilan’s leg, bringing him back from betraying their plans. He knew having fermented beverages at the feast was a bad idea, but the Shilan insisted. Thank the Lords that he had kept his wits about him.

“Does My Lord Shiren have any plans now that your Sheven is official? Perhaps introduce him to the Masters of the various halls and try his hand or go out with the hunters for some early gesslebrok?”

“Actually, we talked yesterday of leaving tomorrow or the next day to find Cale’s life pod.” Bel’loc answered.

“So soon, do you think it is safe to pass so close to where the other tribe tracked you?”

“We are waiting only long enough for Cale to evaluate my remaining guard. He might want to change the make-up of my guard to compliment his styles and plans. Plus we will take a different route, on that will avoid that tribe’s areas.”

“What?!” The Shilan said in outrage. “We handpicked your guard for you; it should be all you need. Some outworlder isn’t going to have the skills or knowledge to know what you need to make sure you survive on Tarenna!”

Bel’loc smiled tightly, secure in his new place, his Sheven at his side. “No, Father. Na’alen handpicked the guard for me, and obviously the judgment is suspect of a man who lost a Trial by Combat to my Sheven. I think I will be allowing, even welcoming some changes in my guard.”

The Shilan sat in silent fury, unable to retort. Cale just watched the fierce but subtle wordplay between the two leaders, the current one and the one to come. Even with a change in guard Cale thought they would have reason to be very careful, the Shilan didn’t seem to be a man who would just give up, not even if told to by his Lords.

That brought Cale’s mind back to the scene he had witnessed earlier that day, as much as he just wanted to forget it, the solid weight of the torc around his neck was irrefutable proof. Perhaps when they came back from checking his pod Bel’loc would take him to the Inner Courtyard. If they were the couple in the prophecy, maybe something would be revealed to them. He was trying hard to hold onto his skepticism but maybe that would help him make up his mind. Well, depending on if something happened or not.

Bel’loc nudged Cale, indicating it was time for him to give his toast, the end of the evening. Cale was distracted enough that he didn’t focus on the words he was saying but eloquent empty speeches were a dime a dozen where he came from. The people toasted the pair again when he was done, sitting quietly in their chairs as they waited for the Shilan and Shiren to take their leave.

The Shilan and his Sheven stood up, causing the seated members to stand in a flurry, bowing as he passed. Cale and Bel’loc followed, stopping at the doors to the banquet hall, speaking with various members of the council and masters as they filed from the room. They asked the Master of the Hall of Warriors to have the men interested in being assigned to Bel’loc’s guard waiting early at the practice field the next day.

“Whew…” sighed Bel’loc, as the last person left the room. He didn’t ignore the cleaning servants but didn’t feel that he needed to be so rigidly formal around them.

“I know what you mean.” said Cale, “It seemed as if this day was never going to end.”

“I think we should get some rest, we have an early morning.” Bel’loc yawned.

“Lead on, My Lord. I shall follow; I have to keep an eye on your back!” Cale joked, his glance downward showing what part of Bel’loc’s ‘back’ he would be watching.

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